Petroleum Collectibles Monthly

May 2005 - Let's Talk Pumps by Scott Anderson


Hello to all PCM readers! It’s hard to believe that May is actually here and the summer show season is just around the corner. We just returned from the Pate Swap Meet held at the Texas Motor Speedway near Ft. Worth, TX.

The Pate Swap Meet is fairly special to me as this was the very first “national” swap meet that I ever attended, and I have now attended the show for 28 consecutive years (1977-2005). This is a very well organized and well-attended show that features multiple petroliana vendors and a diverse group of petroliana collectibles. I’m happy to report that attendance and sales were brisk, and that the show will continue at the same location and time next year.

Prior to the Pate show, I received a phone call from a new pump collector named Jim from Iowa. Jim had ordered a rubber hose from us and he had received it prior to the show. When he tried to put the hose on his gas pump he discovered a problem. It seems that the hose outlet on his pump contained a 1” male pipe nipple, and that his new hose also featured a 1” male thread. At first he was a little upset with me that the hose we sent would not fit on his pump. To make matters worse, his nozzle also contained a 1” male pipe nipple and consequently it would not fit on the hose either. He wanted me to send him another hose that used only 1” female hose fittings (couplings).

After sitting down and scratching my head a little, I proceeded to explain to Jim that the problem had more to do with his hose outlet and nozzle that with my hose. I further explained that this situation was fairly common and that he should at least consider removing the 1” threaded pipe nipples from his hose outlet and nozzle so that our 1” “male” hose would work. I also suggested that he could simply add a small 1” female coupling to the pipe nipple if he did not want to hassle with removing a rusty, fifty year old pipe nipple. After all, removing an old, over-tightened, frozen pipe nipple could involve wire brushing, oiling, and torch heating the fitting that the nipple was stuck in before attacking it with a pipe wrench.

If the pump we are talking about is already painted then this process becomes even more of a hassle. Since pulling on the nipple with a pipe wrench is about the only way to remove the nipple, it follows that the pipe wrench will undoubtedly ruin the nipple after a couple of cranks. Once the nipple is damaged there is no turning back; it has to be removed. This is way a pump restorer should always plan ahead for the best hose and hose outlet configuration he can get. Don’t wait until after the pump is painted to consider hose outlet options.

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule of thumb that says, “All hose outlets should be female.” The first situation is where the service station operator or the pump restorer definitely wants to use a hose with female couplings because these female couplings also feature swivels. Many old cloth hoses and some old rubber hoses used on visible and clockface pumps were equipped with female swivels to prevent binding of the hose and nozzle and to help the hose move easier to different locations around the pump. It could very well be that Jim’s pump was originally equipped with a swivel hose of some kind and that is why the male nipple was left in his hose outlet.

The other reason that a male pipe nipple would be used on a pump hose outlet would be if a brass gate valve were going to be used on that pump. Many visible pumps used gate valves to control the gravity flow of the gasoline. Most of these gate valves were used on 1 ¼” or 1 ½” pipes or pipe nipples.

As for Jim’s nozzle, he really needs to remove the old 1” nipple from the nozzle inlet, as it was probably put in there by a farmer or second hand user who was salvaging old parts…making due with what he had. He will need a good bench vise, torch and pipe wrench to accomplish this fun task. All nozzles that I’m aware of use female openings in ¾”, 1”, or in some cases 1 ¼” on some older nozzles.

To recap, I think that Jim should try to make the necessary adjustments with his hose outlet and nozzle so that an all-male hose will work. If this plan isn’t acceptable, I could probably have a rubber or cloth hose custom built for Jim that features a female swivel on one or both ends of the hose. There would probably be an additional charge of $10.00 to $20.00 for this type of custom order. I should probably stress here that female swivel hose fittings should only be considered as a special addition to some visible and clock face pumps. All or most tall and short (1940s-1960s) electric computer pumps should rely on rubber hoses with either ¾” or 1” chrome male couplings.

I hope this hose and hose-coupling discussion helps Jim and others with their future hose style and size dilemmas. Good luck to all you pump collectors and restorers at the upcoming spring and summer gas bashes, swap meets and petroliana shows. Thanks for reading Let’s Talk Pumps and keep the questions coming.

Please send your questions, photos and inquiries to:

Scott Anderson
Scotty’s Garage/Time Passages, Ltd.
P.O. Box 65596
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265 E-Mail Website

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